Warren Murphy: Cold Warrior

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    Cold Warrior
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    Детективная фантастика / на английском языке
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    Английский
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Cold Warrior: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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When impoverished Cuba is attacked, Castro is sure that the U.S. is behind the assault, and he sends a MiG fighter jet to destroy a nuclear power plant in Florida, prompting Remo and Chiun to spring to action.

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For years, the Master of Sinanju had nurtured a secret crush on Cheeta Ching. Recent events had brought the three of them into contact, first during the bloody special governor's election in California, and more recently in Manhattan, where they had been called in to deal with a bizarre, seemingly haunted Fifth Avenue skyscraper.

During the first contact, Cheeta had been rescued by Remo and Chiun-after which, she and the Master of Sinanju had disappeared together. Only days later, Cheeta had announced that her heroic struggle to become a forty-something mother had resulted in an ovulatory breakthrough. Chiun had declined any comment, but was looking forward to the birth. It had been his stated goal to ensure a male child by Cheeta for the express purpose of creating the next heir to the Sinanju line.

No matter how much Remo had tried, he could not get Chiun to either confirm or deny paternity. As the due day approached, Remo grew more and more worried.

"Tonight," a puffy-faced Cheeta was saying, "tensions between the United States and Cuba are increasing, in the aftermath of what some are calling 'Bay of Pigs Two.' "

The graphic behind Cheeta's head expanded to fill the screen. It showed a battle-torn beach, where the Maximum Leader of Cuba was storming about like some hulking, olive-drab Moses.

"Pah!" Chiun said, as the face of Cheeta Ching vanished from sight.

"Relax, Little Father. You know Cheeta's got her face time written into her contract. She'll be back in thirty seconds."

The footage rolled on as Cheeta screeched on.

"What Havana is calling 'a cowardly imperialist attack on the heroic Cuban Revolution' began in the early-evening hours when a team of unidentified mercenaries infiltrated the Bay of Pigs area, site of the cowardly botched 1961 invasion launched by the quasilegal CIA."

"Since when is tyranny heroic?" Remo grumbled.

"Remo! Be still."

The footage showed a line of shackled prisoners being herded into a Soviet-made BMP armored vehicle.

"U.S. officials deny culpability," Cheeta screeched on. "But reliable sources abroad, as well as the historical significance of the landing site, clearly suggest U.S.A. fingerprints."

"How about giving the American side for once?" Remo complained.

Chiun glowered. Remo subsided. When Chiun merely shouted, he was blowing off steam. When he glowered, it meant a volcano was rumbling in warning. Remo decided he could do without a lava-and-pumice shower.

Cheeta's flat face returned to the screen. "In a furious, three-hour-long speech given this afternoon, Cuban President Fidel Castro promised swift and-"

Snow filled the screen with a swiftness and violence that caught them off-guard. It hissed and crackled. Cheeta Ching's mouth continued to make flexible shapes, but her words were drowned out. Then her face was gone, replaced by busy white pixels.

Chiun leaped to his feet. "What outrage is this!" he demanded.

"Easy," Remo said. "It's probably just a reception problem."

A moment later, it was clear that reception was not the problem.

A new face appeared on the screen. It was mostly beard-gray and curly. From a mouth hidden in all that unruly hair, a cigar about half the length of a Louisville Slugger jutted.

A meaty hand reached up to take the cigar from the mouth. And the mouth began speaking.

"Ceetizens of Miami!" it proclaimed in a distinctly Latin accent. "Ceetizens of the world! The Imperialists have declared war on Cuba and its magnificent Revolution. So be it! The Socialist Revolution now declares war on Imperialist interests everywhere! For every blow struck against our peaceful shores, a greater, mightier blow will be struck against the aggressor!"

"Crap," Remo said.

"Who is this man, Remo?"

"Don't you recognize him? It's Castro."

"He is ugly."

"I thought so when I was a kid, and I still think so now. "

The President of Cuba resumed speaking. He gesticulated with his free hand, with his cigar, and as often as not with his bearded head. The man looked spastic. His voice rose and fell feverishly, his accent at times so thick his words ran together and were indistinguishable from one another.

Worst of all, he went on and on for what promised to be hours, warning, threatening, blustering, and making Remo, less than twenty minutes into the performance, mentally wish for the return of Cheeta Ching, owl-screech voice and all.

"Why don't you change the channel?" Remo suggested.

Chiun tossed the channel-changer in Remo's direction and stormed out of the living room. His bedroom door slammed shut.

Remo ran up and down the channels. The same picture was on every channel. The same bombastic voice continued to pour out of the speaker.

"I wonder if this is what Smith wanted us down here for . . . ." Remo muttered.

Chapter 3

USAF Captain William "Trusty" Ayres III despised Cuba.

His hatred had nothing to do with the Cuban political system, its climate, exports, or people, whom he was reliably informed were both friendly and hardworking.

William Ayres III hated Cuba because the threat it presented to Florida meant that Ayres had had to sit out the Gulf War, flying coast-wise patrols in his F-16 Fighting Falcon out of Homestead Air Force Base on the tip of Florida, a mere ninety miles from the island of Cuba.

He could have been an ace by now. Would have been, he was sure-except that some Pentagon war-simulation computer had spat out a scenario in which Havana decided to side with Iraq and fly sorties against Florida pressure points, one of which was the Turkey Point nuclear power plant, conveniently adjacent to Homestead. Cuban defectors had sworn their on-board MIG flight computers were programmed for strikes against Turkey Point.

It had never happened. Oh, sure, Fidel had made a lot of speeches. But they were just the same old hot air.

So when the scruffy face of the leader of the Cuban Revolution appeared on the Homestead AFB rec room TV during a rerun of Hot Shots, William Ayres III impulsively threw a can of diet Dr. Pepper at the screen.

"Banana-republic jerk!" he jeered.

His fellow pilots hooted and shouted abuse at the screen. Some of them had flown combat in the Gulf. They lorded it over Captain Ayres. Called him "Rusty" Ayres, until he wanted to drain the oil from their engines.

"What's he sayin'?" someone asked over the raucous din.

"Who cares? The guy's a big windbag."

"Yeah. Just a dinosaur looking for a cushy museum."

Eventually, they settled down. Castro was going on and on as if he were spring-wound.

They listened attentively as the Maximum Leader of Cuba proclaimed, "We are surrounded by a sea of capitalism! But we shall prevail! History will vindicate us! Our cause is true! Our slogan will always be: 'Socialismo o Muerte!' "

"What's that mean?" Ayres asked Janio Perez.

"Socialism or death," grunted Perez. "I say death," someone else growled.

"Let's put it to a vote."

They never put it to a vote.

Instead the scramble Klaxon started yowling, and they were pelting for their waiting F-16s.

Ayres was first into the air. He received his vectors from the tower and realized he was being sent over the Gulf. Not the Gulf he had missed out on, but the Gulf of Mexico.

"This is it!" he said. "We're at war with Cuba. Damn!"

All thought of the glories of air combat drained from his brain. He was a professional now, doing the job his country had trained him for.

His radar picked up a single bogie, flying low on the deck. The Identify Friend or Foe transponder read it as unfriendly.

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